Installing OS X 10.11 El Capitan inside Parallels Desktop

This is actually surprisingly straightforward, once you know the hoops to jump through.

Essentially there are 4 main things we need to do:

  1. Download El Capitan from the App Store
  2. Prepare an install image
  3. Create a virtual machine
  4. Install El Capitan

So let’s take a look at those, one by one…

Step 1: Download El Capitan from the App Store

Currently you need to be a registered developer. Provided you are, you can download the beta from Apple’s website (this redeems a coupon inside the App Store, so you need to be on a Mac to start the download).

Step 2: Prepare an install image

This section is all command-line stuff, so go fire up Terminal.app. (Warning: you’ll need at least 15GB of disk space free to deal with this next section safely… more if you don’t clean up the two temporary images we build along the way)

First up we want to install the iesd Rubygem which provides a nice way to deal with Apple’s InstallESD.dmg files:

sudo gem install iesd

Now we want to use that iesd tool to build a bootable image from the installer we downloaded from the App Store:

iesd -i /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ 10.11\ Developer\ Beta.app -o ElCapitan-base.dmg -t BaseSystem

Okay, so that’s built us a read-only (DMG format) bootable image for the installer. At the moment, though, that’s missing the copy of OS X that it actually needs to go and install into your VM. To fix that we need to get a read-write (sparse image format) copy of the image:

hdiutil convert ElCapitan-base.dmg -format UDSP -o ElCapitan.sparseimage

Let’s throw away the read-only version now:

rm ElCapitan-base.dmg

And now we want to mount the disk image so we can add some files into it:

hdiutil mount ElCapitan.sparseimage

We also want to mount the InstallESD.dmg file from inside the installer we downloaded from the App Store, as it has some files we’ll need to copy over:

hdiutil mount /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ 10.11\ Developer\ Beta.app/Contents/SharedSupport/InstallESD.dmg

Now we want to copy the files from the Install ESD into the writable image we made:

cp /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/BaseSystem.* /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System/

Now we want to eject both of those:

hdiutil detach /Volumes/OS\ X\ Base\ System/
hdiutil detach /Volumes/OS\ X\ Install\ ESD/

And now we need to get it back into that read-only DMG format:

hdiutil convert ElCapitan.sparseimage -format UDZO -o ElCapitan.dmg

And let’s throw away the read-write version to free up disk space:

rm ElCapitan.sparseimage

Step 3: Create a virtual machine

  1. Open Parallels, and press the + button to create a new VM
  2. Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file
  3. Continue without a source
  4. When asked what type of OS you’re installing be sure to pick OS X
  5. Tick “Customise settings before installation” and click continue
  6. Go to the Hardware tab, then go to USB & Bluetooth, and turn off USB 3.0 support or the installer will kernel panic during boot
  7. Go to CD/DVD 1 and insert the ElCapitan.dmg file you created
  8. Go to CPU & Memory and make sure you have at least 2048MB of RAM
  9. Go to Video and ensure you have at least 128MB of video RAM

Step 4: Install El Capitan

Okay, now comes the moment of truth: boot the Virtual Machine and you should be presented with a white Apple logo on a black background for a few minutes, followed by the El Capitan installer.

Credit where credit’s due…

This post was originally inspred by this post by TheBressman on Reddit, however that was missing some steps, so I filled in the gaps with info from this blog post by Jacob Tomlinson. Thanks!

Thoughts on switching from Chrome to Safari 5.2 [updated]

I’ve used Google Chrome almost exclusively as my main browser since 2009, but after seeing Apple’s WWDC keynote last week I decided to give Safari another try, because being able to send a tab from one device to another (without using Pastebot to just copy/paste the URL across devices),  is one of my most-wanted features.

Things I like about Safari:

  • iCloud tabs (even though I don’t have Mountain Lion yet, it’s already come in useful between my iPad and iPhone running iOS 6).
  • A unified bookmarks bar between my iOS devices and Safari on OS X
  • Reader (though I used Readability before, so I’m not really gaining anything really new here)
  • A unified address/search bar in Safari 5.2 (FINALLY.)

Things I don’t like:

  • No built-in translator
  • No distinct incognito/private browsing windows (with Chrome, incognito windows are super-useful for having two separate “cookie sets” allowing you to login as two users at once while developing web apps)
  • No pinnable tabs… there are a few things I always leave open, but I don’t want them taking up huge amounts of real-estate on my tab bar
  • More than a handful of tabs leads to Safari just displaying a >> icon at the end of the tab bar, whereas Chrome makes them progressively smaller so you can at least still get to them all
  • In Safari, Cmd-1 through Cmd-9 select Bookmark Bar bookmarks in Safari rather than specific tabs (this means I keep accidentally leaving the page I’m on and calling a bookmark instead of switching to the tab I wanted)
  • Lame process separation in Safari: although the web process is separated from the main browser UI process, if one tab crashes in Safari, ALL tabs need to be refreshed. This is no better than having the entire browser “unexpectedly quit” on me, really.

So far I’m finding Safari’s limitations super annoying and I want to switch back, but I’m going to stick it out a while longer. Perhaps I’ll get used to the quirks.

Update 2012-06-23: I’m back to Chrome. Safari’s funky replacement for the WebKit Developer Tools was the final straw.

Removing stuck Finder sidebar items in OS X Lion and Snow Leopard

Having trouble removing some pesky icons that have gotten stuck in the Finder’s sidebar? If you’re on Lion or Snow Leopard, the solution is easy:

  1. Click on the folder and drag it away from the sidebar
  2. Before you let go of the mouse button, hold down the Command (⌘) key
  3. Now that you’re holding down the Command (⌘) key, release the mouse button
  4. The icon should now finally disappear from your sidebar in a puff of smoke
  5. Hooray!

(Credit: Hybridair at MacRumors Forums)

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FaceTime missing on your iPhone 4? Here’s how to fix it.

I discovered today that FaceTime didn’t work on my iPhone 4: people couldn’t start FaceTime calls with me and I didn’t have any of the FaceTime buttons present. Turns out that this problem is caused when restoring from an iPhone 3G running iOS 4 — it seems the FaceTime on/off setting is imported from the iPhone 3G (which has it turned off as it doesn’t support FaceTime). Going into Settings > Phone and then flipping FaceTime on solved it for me.

Other people seem to have had to jump through a couple of extra hoops to get this to work, if flipping the switch didn’t get you going, take a look at this post over at the Rusty Brick blog.

Update 2010-08-22: Still having trouble? Did you jailbreak your iPhone 4? There’s something else that might stop this working too.

Update 2011-08-20: Did you find this post helpful? It would be awesome if you’d take a moment or two to check out File Sanctuary, my hosting company. We’d love to help you with our cloud servers, web hosting, email hosting, radio station hosting, domain registration, SSL certificates, and Livedrive cloud backup. We really care about the service we provide, and we’re fairly priced. Have a look around our website to find out some more, then get in touch and tell us what you’re after, and we’ll do everything we can to accomodate your needs. Thank you for reading my shameless plug! :)

Update 2012-07-18: Several people have reported that the FaceTime icon disappears after you have done the initial setup, and that this is normal. To make a FaceTime call once setup is complete, go into your Contacts, find the person you want to video chat with, then you should see a FaceTime button underneath their contact info, in the same ara that the “Text Message” button is. Thanks to everyone who’s commented for sharing their stories!